TUESDAY PUZZLE – Congratulations to Daniel Okulitch, the 64th builder to make his New York Times Crossword debut this year! This puzzle is full of great old-fashioned word games that solvers are sure to enjoy.
Tuesday’s puzzles tend to be some of the least predictable of the week. On Mondays, you can expect a light and airy resolution, while Wednesday tends to have eye-catching themes with revealing. Thursday you know there will be Something difficult, although the tip changes from week to week. Fridays and Saturdays are theme-less celebrations of puns and trivia, and of course Sundays are huge.
But on Tuesdays? Tuesdays are everywhere on the map. They are harder than Mondays, and sometimes (like today) their themes are heavy but not revealing. And I love them all the same – although the Tuesday puzzles are sometimes disparaged for their lack of direction, I think their eccentric nature is charming. Indeed, I’m glad that I don’t have to choose a preferred day of the week for the puzzles, because it is the real dead end situation.
Confusing things to do at home
For people who are interested in situations not no-win, I have some news that you can use. I described the Boswords Fall Themeless League in detail a few weeks ago, but I wanted to remind any latecomers who want to register that it is coming quickly!
The league kicks off with a pre-season puzzle on Monday, September 27, and then competitive puzzles will be released every Monday in October and November at 9 p.m. EST, though solvers have four days to go. TP submit. The list of builders is dotted with stars, and the puzzles are available at three different difficulty levels so that any solver who can complete a New York Times Tuesday puzzle can compete against each other. We’ll see each other there!
21A. I like the clue ‘The’ fact ‘that bulls get angry when they see the color red, for example’ because it’s like the opposite of a ‘fun fact’. Maybe we can make the ‘fun MYTH’ a thing?
22A. As I said above, the decisions about whether I prefer, say, Tuesday puzzles over Thursday puzzles, or Friday puzzles over Saturday puzzles are “winless situations?” Because these contests are all linked. I love them all equally, so no day wins!
43A. “The fish often served ‘meunière’” is SOLE – serving SOLE “meunière” means serving it in a brown butter sauce.
58A. I stumbled across the “Lots of an Opera Villain” clue shortly after filling SOLE, so when I wrote in BASS, I laughed at the idea of an opera with a big fish. for a villain. (Sadly, the word BASS in this case means someone with a specific, deep vocal range, although a Chilean sea fish would have been more fun.)
73A. The index to be completed “___ et Chandon” searches for MOËT, producer of champagne.
10D. I had an error in the “Caramel candy brand” clue: I mistakenly filled in an “u” instead of the initial “e” in WERTHERS. I didn’t know the vocal styles of LEONA Lewis, so “Luona” sounded just as plausible to me!
11D. Here is a common crossword entry to keep an “i” for: A “region of ancient Greece on the Aegean” is generally going to be IONIA, favored by crossword builders for its generous vowel-consonant ratio.
28D. The play on words (a little dark) “The last words? Is a pun clue for OBIT, short for OBITuary, or words written after someone’s death.
50D. To conclude this section on a lighter… uh… heavier Note the clue “A heavyweight to carry for a musician?” Is a pun on TUBA, like the heavy instrument held by a child in the 1959 photo at the top of the column.
Theme of the day
Legal word games are the name of the game in this puzzle. We have four thematic entries in the longest Across positions with “? Clues, which signal that the pun is happening. The first of them, which I think is both the funniest and the outlier of the group, is PRO BONO AVOCADO, designated as “the lawyer of the leader of U2?” Although the direct definition of PRO BONO ATTORNEY is a lawyer who will not charge a fee, the pun does refer to a lawyer in favor of the lead singer of Irish rock band U2, whose name is Bono.
The other three puns also play on concepts of the law, including the phrase MOTION DENIED, which in a courtroom means that a judge denies an attorney’s request. But in the context of the clue “A little tied up right now? it means unable to move (or being denied movement).
The last thematic entry, CLASS ACTION SUIT, is indicated as “Clothing for the gym period?” As in, this is the garment one could wear for an action-packed classroom. Is it a stretch? Sure, but I loved it. Sue me!
PRO BONO ATORNEY is an outlier in this set of themes because it contains a legal term which has no alternate meaning. All the terms in the other topic entries have alternate meanings, but AVOCADO actually only means one thing. I only noticed it after I finished the puzzle, but I don’t mind because my mom is PRO-BONO AVOCADO (she is a lawyer and she likes U2), and I’m happy to play this joke on him.
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The tipping point
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